To give my brain a break and my creativity, some input, I decided to take a walk in a park. Not my local park – a new one. 

Heaton Park. It’s one of those hidden spots which gives a beautiful lift to the East Newcastle community.

I like supporting local businesses, so I ignored the big three and visited the park cafe, plonked myself with notepad in hand and ordered an oat milk flat white. 

What turned up was coffee(ish), but trade descriptions would be involved if it were passing itself off as a flat white.

Two sips and I was done. 

I asked for my bill, £3.45 and handed the almost full cup back.


Quiz time. Did the cafe:

1. Ask why I hadn’t drank the coffee. Listened attentively when I suggested it wasn’t actually a flat white. Then offered to comp the coffee.

2. Enquire if everything is ok. But I said, ‘Fine, thanks’, as I’m polite and don’t like confrontation.

3. Say nothing. Take the £3.45 and omit to say thank you.

No prizes if you guessed option 3. 

And I didn’t for a second feel the need to tell the owner that the coffee was pants and it wasn’t a flat white.

I just made my mind up.

I’ll never go there again.


I teach customer service. 

And frequently talk about ‘the silent customer’.

In fact, there’s a whole chapter in my book 5 Star Service called ‘Beware the silent customer’.

They’re everywhere.

They won’t say what’s wrong.

But they won’t return.

While the supplier is thinking everything’s perfect. The truth is their customer has already made their mind up to spend their hard-earned money elsewhere.

Maybe that’s you?

The customer, not the supplier.

As a supplier, you’d never allow a silent customer to leave you and you’ll always aim for 5-star service. Wouldn’t you?

Should I have said something? Would you? What’s the alternative?

I’d love to know your thoughts. You can leave them below.

Be Brilliant!



  1. March 21st 2024 by Mr Ian Pearson

    It may have been the oat milk?

  2. March 21st 2024 by Andrew Bettany

    .. And of course the silent customer will tell others about their poor customer service experience. In your case they’ll tell 100’s 😁

  3. March 21st 2024 by Carolyn Bryan

    That is assuming that they would take action if you had complained…
    We visited Barter Books cafe up North a few years ago and watched someone feed their dog at the table. The dog’s dribble was wiped with a napkin and left on the table. The table wasn’t cleared for the next customer. We didn’t say anything at the time but wrote a letter to complain. The response?
    – ‘Nobody has ever complained before!’
    We won’t be going back and have told many others the gross story.

  4. March 21st 2024 by Chris Berrett

    As i’m a silent customer I couldn’t possibly comment.

  5. March 21st 2024 by Paul Lott

    I often see FB campaigns saying support local coffee shops, (I have my own one) but like you am often disappointed by their offering especially as I know it’s not that much of a difficult drink to get right with just a little bit of training and care.

  6. March 21st 2024 by David Palmer

    On the other foot, the anonymous customer on Amazon who gives your book a one star review (against all the 5 stars) but doesn’t say why. Probably just a troll but if they had some useful feedback?

  7. March 21st 2024 by Jane Parsons

    I give feedback every time something isn’t right. I try to be kind, firm and constructive, and if they say it’s been helpful, I say I will come back and enjoy the improvements. If we don’t give feedback, how can anyone learn apart from by going out of business, and probably not understanding why.

  8. March 21st 2024 by Hilary Jones

    Some great comments and I agree with Jane Parsons. I will, however, continue to vote with my feet, I feel it’s up to the seller to ensure great customer service – not me

  9. March 21st 2024 by JIM HETHERTON

    Feedback is a Gift! it should be given and received as one.

  10. March 21st 2024 by Debbie Lynn

    I think it varies on what the issue is and to be honest how much energy I have. Some days I am simply exhausted by life and don’t have the energy. I would have probobly asked to switch it for something else that may have had better results, even a cold drink. One thing I do always complain about is rudeness. I may sometimes struggle to be so constructive with that one!

  11. March 22nd 2024 by Claire Nicholas

    Always say something. Feedback is essential. By not voicing your views, you are denying them the chance to improve.

  12. March 22nd 2024 by Tim Howard

    Hi Michael,

    Hope you and the team are all well.

    A couple of weeks ago the new manager of our local Morrisons supermarket asked for feedback about his store.

    As a result we met and, amongst other things, I recommended you to him.

    Today’s post seemed especially relevant and so I took the liberty of forwarding this him (as well as Rami Baitieh, the Chief Executive, who’s office subsequently made contact with me as well.)

    So, if miracles do happen, and someone from Morrisons Head Office actually gets in touch with you to sort out all their customer service woes, you can blame me.

    All the very best.


  13. March 22nd 2024 by Alin

    Thanks for this post, it brightened my day!

    I am the silent customer more often than not 🙂 And yes, I will never return. For me, I don’t think options 1 and 2 were realistic. They might make the next flat whites better, but they’ll eventually fallback to their default quality.

  14. March 23rd 2024 by Neil Skelding

    I’m a big fan of giving feedback – but most often I feel like it’s not requested, not wanted and not acted upon, so I tend to be silent because I have a slightly jaded worldview on how much people actually care.

    When they do, it shines through and is wonderful to see, feel and experience. Those people get the feedback, good or bad.

  15. March 28th 2024 by sharon whatley

    I would most definitely let them know but giving them the option of replacement coffee or my money back. I work hard for my money and would rather give it to my child than gift to a cafe that has given me something I cannot drink. There is never any excuse not to put right shoddy work.

  16. March 28th 2024 by sharon whatley

    I would most definitely let them know by, giving them the option of replacement coffee, or my money back. I work hard for my money and would rather give it to my child than gift to a cafe that has given me something I cannot drink. There is never any excuse not to put right shoddy work.

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